What foods will help you sleep?

By Brooke Strickland

Life is busy – full of information, stressors, and things that keep your brain engaged.  So, it’s no surprise that some people have trouble falling asleep at night.  When you get home from work, sometimes you have to catch up with stuff around the house rather than find time to sit down, relax, and unwind.  Maybe you’ll stay up late in order to get what you need done at home.  This means you simply just can’t go to bed at a reasonable hour. And, when you finally lay down to rest, you might struggle with stress or insomnia.

Instead of taking a sleeping pill, there are actually foods that will help induce sleep faster!

- Foods high in vitamin B6:  A lot of fish is high in vitamin B6 – especially salmon, halibut, and tuna.  This vitamin can help make melatonin, which is a sleep-inducing hormone.  Don’t like fish? That’s okay! There are other foods rich in this vitamin such as fortified cereals, chickpeas, bananas, bran, pistachios, or pork tenderloin.

- Dairy foods:  If your diet is lacking dairy, there’s a chance you have a harder time falling asleep.  Make sure to incorporate yogurt and milk into your diet in order to get solid amounts of calcium into your body.

- Foods high in L-Tryptophan:  We all know that Thanksgiving turkey is supposed to put you to sleep.  Well, turkey isn’t the only thing that has L-tryprophan in it!  Dates, navy beans, soybeans, quinoa, rice, split peas, and leafy vegetables such as collard greens and spinach are also great sources of L-Tryptophan.  

If you’re not hungry, try using lavender to help relax and calm you.  Lavender is known to help people sleep.  Try spraying a non-toxic lavender spray on your pillow, take a lavender-scented bath, or buy a lavender-filled pillow.  All of these can naturally help with insomnia!

Sleep deprivation can affect all parts of your life – it can make your brain feel foggy, weaken your immune system, and make you irritable or on edge. Next time you find yourself struggling to sleep, try some of these natural foods to help you beat insomnia!


1.   “9 Foods to Help You Sleep.” Eating Well. http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/9_foods_to_help_you_sleep Accessed April 16, 2013.

2.   “Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin B6.” Health Alicious Ness. http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-high-in-vitamin-B6.php  Accessed April 16, 2013.